After months of cutting corners, taking shortcuts, and preparing dinners that could be shaken out of a frozen bag, I’m creeping back into the kitchen. Yesterday’s episode of Barefoot Contessa showcased her pappa al pomodoro soup, and after a chilly walk on the beach, I was inspired! This soup is hearty and rustic and wonderful, and the garnish is half the fun of eating it. Just make sure to roast the croutons and pancetta at the very end of your cooking. I did mine right at the beginning and was snacking on them throughout the evening. Oops!
I’ve made this soup before using bacon, but this time I used the pancetta Ina calls for. The only pancetta at the grocery store was sliced very thin, and I didn’t taste much of a difference between it and the bacon I’d used before. So it’s a matter of taste, or perhaps, what’s available to you.
As usual, I cut this recipe in half, because Ina’s soups always serve a crowd, and nixed the fennel because it’s not my fave.
For the soup:
- extra virgin olive oil
- 2 small onions
- 3 carrots
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 2 C ciabatta bread chunks, about one inch cubes
- 1, 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, with juices
- 2 C low sodium chicken broth
- ½ C red wine
- ½ C chopped basil
- salt and pepper
- parmesan cheese
Get a couple of tablespoons of olive oil heated up in a large stock pot over medium heat. Dice the onions and carrots. The best part about a dish being “rustic” is that you don’t have to worry about dicing your ingredients into teeny tiny pieces. Sauté the carrots and onions, stirring occasionally until they are soft, about 8 minutes. Mince the garlic, add it to the carrot and onion mixture, along with some salt and pepper, and cook for a minute longer.
Tear your ciabatta bread into one-inch-ish cubes, and add them to the pot. Stir them around for about 5 minutes.
Next, remove the tomatoes from the can, and tear them up with your hands as you add them to the soup. I know it sounds odd, but I like the larger tomato chunks rather than the small pieces you would have if you bought a can of diced tomatoes. Add the juices from the can, the chicken broth and the red wine to the pot. Bring the soup to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Simmer, partially covered, for 45 minutes. As the soup cooks, the bread will just melt into the liquids, and thicken things right up. Stir in the Parmesan just before serving. Dish out the soup and top with the croutons and pancetta.
For your garnish:
- 1 C ciabatta bread chunks, about one inch cubes
- 2 oz. chopped pancetta or bacon
Turn the oven on to 375. Tear up the ciabatta, chop the pancetta, and place them on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper and just a little salt (the pancetta is salty enough). Roast for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.
Now that the cooler temperatures are here to stay, this soup will warm you right up.